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Bosnia: Leader Says NATO Forces Must Remain

Washington, 22 October 1997 (RFE/RL) - Bosnian Council of Ministers co-chairman Haris Silajdzic says NATO-led military forces must remain in Bosnia past their scheduled June 1998 departure date if progress is to continue on implementing a peace agreement for Muslims, Serbs and Croats.

Silajdzic told reporters in Washington yesterday that he believes it would be unwise to withdraw the troops and risk everything that has been accomplished since the peace accord was signed almost two years ago.

Silajdzic had talks at the State Department with Ambassador Robert Gelbard, the special U.S. envoy for the implementation of the peace plan. The Bosnian official says he and Gelbard agreed that progress has been made. However, Silajdzic says he stressed to Gelbard that the majority of the 36,000 troops in the stabilization force would have to stay beyond next June.